Software

Tweak Microsoft's Outlook 2007 to make it more responsive and less like beta software

While there are some new features available in Microsoft's Outlook 2007 beta, the experience is not all it could be. Many people are reporting problems with the speed and responsiveness of the Outlook 2007 beta. Josh Hoskins has experienced this lack of speed and has several suggestions that should fix the beta software's problems.

With the release of the Office 2007 Beta there has been a major overhaul of the office interface for most of the suite. The notable exception to this is Outlook 2007. Outlook 2007 looks similar to Outlook 2003 (which was a major change from previous office versions). While there are some new features of Outlook, many people are having a hard time using them as there are many problems reported with slowness with the Outlook 2007 beta. I can attest to this as I experienced the same symptoms. I will now go through several of the reported fixes for this, and the one that finally worked for me.


A screenshot gallery explaining the following tweaks is also available.


Tweaks

One of the first things you can do to combat Outlook slowness is to reduce the size of your mailbox by creating a new PST file. A smaller mailbox creates a smaller load on Outlook. If you have important mail that you cannot get rid of, consider creating archive PST's. This is easy to do in any version of Outlook. You create a new one by going to File | New | Outlook Data File (Figure A). This will create a new folder on your right hand pane labeled Personal Folders. You can then create folders in here and drag and drop items from your mailbox to this new folder. This will remove them from your mailbox, and Outlook will not load them on startup. You will need to make sure of where you place this file. If there is important information in your archive file you will need to either back it up, or place it on fault tolerant storage.

Figure A

Create a new offline folder for Outlook

Another thing to attempt is to remove any un-needed Add-ins from Outlook (Figure B). You can view the Add-ins by going to Tools | Trust Center. While in the Trust Center select the Add-ins tab on the left. From here you can view all the Add-ins you have installed in Outlook. You can begin by disabling any Add-ins you do not use on a regular basis and restarting Outlook (Figure C). If that does not work, then disable all non-Microsoft Add-ins and restart Outlook. If that fails try disabling all Add-ins to see if this corrects the issue.

Figure B

The Trust Center in Outlook 2007

Figure C

From within the Trust Center select Add-ins

You can also start Outlook in safe mode by typing Outlook /safe from your RUN dialog box. This will start Outlook with only the minimum options needed to run the application (this option is available in most versions of Outlook). This is a good way of seeing if the problem is within Outlook itself or just a specific problem with a specific user profile or a plug-in to Outlook. If this corrects the issue, you should attempt to create a new profile in Outlook and see if using that profile also corrects the issue.

No fax services

Finally, the fix that worked for me was to remove the Windows XP Fax services (Figure D). You can do this through the Control Panel | Add or Remove Software | Add/Remove Windows Components. Uninstalling this and restarting Outlook instantly solved my issues with slowness. After completing this, my copy of Outlook 2007 beta was actually more responsive than my copy of Outlook 2003. While I cannot verify exactly why this works, I can verify that I have seen several reports on the Internet of this fix working.

Figure D

Removing the Fax Services Windows Component

Also, earlier this month Microsoft released a Technical Refresh for the Office 2007 Beta. This download is available from Microsoft for a $1.50 download fee or as an update if you already have Office 2007 Beta. This is supposed to fix many issues within the Office 2007 beta, and is the first possible release candidate. While I have not personally tested it, I have seen numerous reports on the Internet of people having issues installing this with their previous version of the beta so install with caution.

Hopefully one of these solutions can be used to help you enjoy the beta of Outlook 2007. The slowness issues almost made me give in and revert back to 2003, but I am glad I stuck it out. It truly is a great program to use, and I have become quite accosted to it, and look forward to rolling it out to my company once it is released.

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